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Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/03/02

In Brief: Photos from our visit to the valley where a Tang Dynasty leader and his followers created an inter-connected series of cave dwellings.

On this trip we visited the valley where a Tang Dynasty leader and his followers created an inter-connected series of cave dwellings after fleeing from a coup The visit to the valley of the caves involves a short, easy walk that is suitable for children. Afterwards, we visited Yongning Town and took a look at its ancient tower and the old Catholic church there.

Nobody is certain exactly who made the cave dwellings, but the best guess at the moment is that they were first started on during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). They were carved from the sandstone cliffs that enclose the valley and are extensive and well-designed, connected by tunnels and stairways, and feature traditional wood heated beds, temples, meeting rooms, and animal shelters (on the lower levels). Most of the rooms are three to four cubic meters in size, and some are high up on the cliff face.

In the town of Yongning, we visited the local open air market with its spices, fruit, and miscellaneous wares, as well as the large Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) tower at the center of town and the beautiful Catholic church nearby, which was founded during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Our group, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

Our group gathers in the narrow valley that leads up to the Tang Dynasty caves.

some of the caves, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

From below, we’re able to spot some of the caves, which are now visible in cross section.

The hike is short, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

The hike is short and the ascent to the caves is gradual.

The carved entrances, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

The carved entrances to the caves were fairly narrow.

Some of the cave homes, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

Some of the cave homes had several rooms, like modern day apartments, and were quite spacious.

This relaxed hike, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

This relaxed hike, which provides the chance to explore the caves, is fun and easy for children.

ancient people, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

The caves would have even been large enough for ancient people of average height to stand up in.

residences, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

A view of the first set of caves, which had stables on the ground level and residences higher up.

a good hiding place, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

The valley is completely enclosed by hills, which made it a good hiding place for its residents for centuries.

spacious rooms, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

This upper set of caves was inhabited by residents of higher social status than the lower set and had larger, more spacious rooms.

A room, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

A room with a view!

Our group photo, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

Our group photo of hikers relaxing at the Tang Dynasty caves!

colorful stained glass windows, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

One of the church’s colorful stained glass windows.

A little homeless dog, Tang Dynasty Dwellings and Yongning Town, 2013/3/2

A little dog peeped at us as we passed by.

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